|The 'brains' and 'action' heavies who had meaty roles and lots of dialog ... and the players who were fathers, ranch owners, lawman, mayors, judges, lawyers, storekeepers, newspaper editors, wardens, etc.|
Full name: Hermon Reed Howes
1900 - 1964
(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Reed Howes - circa early 1920s.
Above from the October 18, 1924 issue of the Exhibitors Trade Review.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Reed Howes - circa 1943 and about 43 years of age.
(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)
|Born in Washington, D.C. in 1900, Hermon Reed Howes served in the Navy during World War I.
Howes biographies mention his graduation from the University of Utah and attendance or graduation from Harvard. That college time is questionable. We know that 19 year old Reed was a bookkeeper and living in Utah with his parents at the time of the 1920 census. About 2 1/2 years later, he was in Hollywood.
A good looking gent, he became one of 1920s "Arrow Collar Men" who modeled Arrow shirts in print advertisements. It appears that Howes "tied the knot" at least three times - in the census and other data at the bottom of this webpage, he was divorced at the time of the 1930 census. Then there's 1932 and 1937 marriages.
The earliest tradezine mention that I found was in the November 11, 1922 issue of Exhibitors Trade Review. The article headline read: "Arrow Will Issue 'High Speed Lee,' with Reed Howes"; and an excerpt from that article: "... a society drama made by Atlantic Productions and featuring Reed Howes, who, according to all reports, is now being groomed as a successor in the type of roles in which Douglas Fairbanks made his screen debut."
Around the time that Howes turned up in Hollywoodland, W. Ray Johnston was forming Rayart Pictures. Johnston was a major player in the independent market, and by the late 1920s, Rayart disappeared and became Syndicate Film Exchange. A few years afterwards, he and Trem Carr established Monogram Pictures, and both Johnston, Carr and Monogram were part of the formation of Republic Pictures in 1935. During the mid to late 1920s, there were dozens of westerns, non-westerns and serials created by various production units operating under - or contracted with - the Rayart company. Harry S. Webb - who would partner up with Bernard B. Ray in the 1930s to create Reliable Pictures - was doing "Rayart Whirlwind Westerns" with Jack Perrin. Kermit Maynard, Ken's younger brother, was billed as "Tex Maynard" in another batch of "Rayart Whirlwind Westerns" for producer Trem Carr. Howes signed with producer and director Harry Joe Brown and during the years 1925-1929, he starred in about two dozen comedies, melodramas, westerns and aerial adventures, initially for Rayart and continuing at Educational Pictures.
There were a few opportunities in bigger films at bigger production companies:
There's an article in the July, 1927 issue of Motion Picture magazine about various Hollywood divorces, and there's mention of Reed and his former wife Lillian who were still on friendly terms and attending social events together. In addition, Howes seemed to recognize the frailty of being a hero in small films for the independent market. In the article, he says:
"... according to his own description, (Howes is) the most 'unknown celebrity in captivity', due to the fact that his stellar activities take place on the screens of little towns."
When talkies arrived, Howes found that only a few leading man roles were being offered. Examples:
In the July, 1936 issue of Motion Picture magazine, there's a tidbit about "old-timers" and "once-stars" hired for (THE AMAZING EXPLOITS OF) THE CLUTCHING HAND (Weiss/Stage & Screen, 1936):
"... Clutching Hand serial, a remake of the one which starred Pearl White 20 years ago, will bring a lot of old-timers back in your eye. On the sets I noticed such once-stars as Bryant Washburn, William Farnum, Rex Lease, Jack Mulhall, Franklyn Farnum, Mae Busch, Reed Howes and Gaston Glass!"
To stay busy and keep bread on the table, Howes had no choice but to shift to support and bit parts, much of which are henchman roles in various oaters. Les Adams has him in about 200 sound films - 117 were westerns and 27 were chapterplays. He appeared in about 30 films at Republic Pictures during the period 1937-1950, and approximately two-thirds were cowboy flicks and the remainder were serials.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Reed Howes: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0398139/
The Internet Movie Database has a People Working Together search function:
Howes and producer Harry Joe Brown worked together in about fifty films and TV shows during the period 1925-1958: http://www.imdb.com/search/title?at=0&roles=nm0398139,nm0113693&sort=release_date_us
At the Internet Archive, you can view/download CHLOE, a voodoo tale starring Olive Borden, Reed Howes and Molly O'Day. The print is not very good. And this NOT politically correct film is really terrible: https://archive.org/details/ChloeLoveIsCallingYou1934
Find A Grave website has a photo of the grave marker of World War I Navy veteran Hermon Reed Howes at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California, The marker notes he was born in Washington D. C. and his first name is shown as Hermon (with an O), not Herman (with an A): https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9710/hermon-reed-howes
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), the California Death Index, and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have information on Reed Howes:
Below is the Howes biography from the 1937 Motion Picture Almanac.
We do know that Howes was living in Utah with his parents on January 3, 1920 (the date of the census visit) and his occupation was "bookkeeper". And he was in Hollywood in mid to late 1922 working for Arrow in HIGH SPEED LEE.
"Arrow Collar Man" Reed Howes - silent film starring work for
producer/director Harry Joe Brown at Rayart and Educational.
Above - November, 1924 two-page tradepaper ad for former "Arrow Collar Man" Reed Howes as Rayart's "New Screen Star".
Above is a full page ad from the October, 1928 issue of Motion Picture Classic for Reed Howes starring in the "Russ Farrell, Aviator" series for Harry Joe Brown and Educational Pictures.